Iraq War

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  For Iraqi Women: Life Better Under SaddamMarch 25, 2008 09:00 Iraqi women say they are now worse off than they were during the rule of dictator Saddam Hussein and that their plight has deteriorated year by year since the US-led invasion in March 2003. Now they are demanding not just equal rights but the very "right to live", says Shameran Marugi, head of the non-governmental organization Iraqi Women's Committee. "The 'right to live' is a slogan that we have begun using because a women's life in Iraq is being threatened on all sides. Laws are not being imple
mented equally and society is ignoring women," Maguri told AFP.

Before the 2003 invasion it was possible for a woman to lead a normal life as long as she followed state policy," she said. "It was even possible for a woman to engage in political and economic activities through the official Union of Iraqi Women," added Marugi. "When the regime change occurred in 2003, women, men, and children went out on to the streets to celebrate. We were very happy," she said.

Unfortunately there was no qualified leadership to handle the situation and society was not equipped to deal with the changes." The Union of Iraqi Women was dismantled after the invasion as it was affiliated to the former Baath Party of Saddam. In the past few years, Marugi said, violence against women has increased significantly. "At home a woman faces violence from her father, husband, brother and even from her son. It has become a kind of a new culture in the society," said the women's rights campaigne

Out in society, women are subjected to verbal abuse on the streets if they are not wearing a hijab and in extreme cases face being abducted by unknown gunmen, who sexually abuse and then kill them. "It has also become normal for women to receive death threats for working for example as a hairdresser or a tailor, for not wearing a hijab or not dressing 'decently'," said Marugi. "In addition to equal rights we are now demanding the 'right to live'," she added.

Although there are no nationwide official figures available, rights activists report numerous cases of so-called "honor killings" in the southern city of Basra, in the northern Kurdish area and in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. A United Nations report said police in Basra registered 44 cases in 2007 where women were killed with multiple gunshot wounds after being accused of committing "honor crimes." In Baghdad, the report said, several women teachers have been shot dead by armed men, some of them in front of
their students.

  Grim Milestone: 4,000 U.S. Service Employees Dead In Iraq War - Cnn.ComMarch 23, 2008 21:15 Four U.S. soldiers died in a roadside bombing in Iraq on Sunday, military officials reported, bringing the American toll in the 5-year-old war to the grim milestone of 4,000 deaths. Eight of the 4,000 killed were civilian employees of the Pentagon.

Troops emerge from a bunker after receiving the "all clear" Sunday following a truck bombing in Mosul.

The four were killed when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device while patrolling a neighborhood in southern Baghdad, the U.S. military headquarters in Iraq reported Sunday night. A fifth soldier was wounded in the attack, which took place about 10 a.m. (3 a.m. ET).

The news came on the same day that Iraq's national security adviser urged Americans to be patient with the progress of the war, contending that it is "well worth fighting" because it has implications about "global terror."

"This is global terrorism hitting everywhere, and they have chosen Iraq to be a battlefield. And we have to take them on," Mowaffak al-Rubaie said Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"If we don't prevail, if we don't succeed in this war, then we are doomed forever," he said. "I understand and sympathize with the mothers, with the widows, with the children who have lost their beloved ones in this country.

"But honestly, it is well worth fighting and well worth investing the money and the treasure and the sweat and the tears in Iraq."
  Republican War Rhetoric Devoid Of RealityMarch 17, 2008 12:15 Defending his stay-the-course policy in Iraq, President Bush declared: "I believe the American people understand that success is necessary for the long-term security of the American people."

The American people, whose mentality he claims to understand as well as he once understood Vladimir Putin's soul, will next November elect a Republican who will "keep up the fight," he predicted.

The GOP nominee-in-waiting, John McCain, agrees. The American armed forces must remain in Iraq as long as it takes to achieve victory, he insists. How long? Maybe not 100 years, as he once said. Maybe 50? Anyway, as long as it takes. To achieve victory. Whatever that is.

Otherwise, McCain emphasizes, al-Qaeda will take over Iraq (despite the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds, who may have other ideas) and follow us here.

Let us now return to reality. How long can we sustain our armed forces in Iraq?

"The cumulative effects of the last six-plus years at war have left our Army out of balance, consumed by the current fight, and unable to do the things we know we need to do to properly sustain our all-volunteer force," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., testifying last fall before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for a New American Security recently conducted a survey of more than 3,400 current and former Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine officers, ranking from major and lieutenant commander to generals and admirals, more than two-thirds of whom have combat experience.

The survey found 60 percent saying that the U.S. military is weaker than it was five years ago and nearly 90 percent believing that the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan have "stretched the United States military dangerously thin."

Suppose another crisis should erupt in one of the world's simmering hot spots?

More than 80 percent of the officers say it would be unreasonable to ask the military to wage another major war today, the survey reports.

So much for the military side. How long can we sustain the civilian side?

In the eighth year of the Bush administration, the national debt has soared to more than $9 trillion. Thanks to the Chinese and the Japanese, we continue going into debt with them so that we can buy their products and they can continue to buy our government securities.

The Iraq war has so far cost around two-thirds of a trillion dollars, and we continue to spend at the rate of $10 billion a month. It's been estimated that the Iraq war could end up costing $2 trillion and quite possibly much more than that. Whenever it ends.

Meanwhile, the American housing market is going into the toilet, with foreclosures at an all-time high. The national infrastructure - roads, bridges, transportation, public works - is falling apart. Jobs are tougher to keep and get. The costs of food and fuel are going up. The stock market is going down. A college education is more and more out of reach for more and more of our young people. About 47 million citizens are without health insurance. The mood of many Americans ranges from nervousness to despair to panic.
  Experts Say Cost Of War On Terror Totals $3 TrillionMarch 02, 2008 12:22 When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration predicted that the war would be self-financing and rebuilding the nation would cost less than $2 billion.

Coming up on the five-year anniversary of the invasion, a new estimate from a Nobel laureate puts the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at more than $3 trillion.

That estimate from Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz also serves as the title of his new book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, which hit store shelves Friday.

The book, co-authored with Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes, builds on previous research published in January 2006. The two argued then and now that the cost to America of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is wildly underestimated.

When other factors are added — such as interest on debt, future borrowing for war expenses, continued military presence in Iraq and lifetime health care and counseling for veterans — they think that the wars' costs range from $5 trillion to $7 trillion.

"I think we really have learned that the long-term costs of taking care of the wounded and injured in this war and the long-term costs of rebuilding the military to its previous strength is going to far eclipse the cost of waging this war," Bilmes said in an interview.

Claims criticized
The book and its estimates were the subject of a hearing Thursday by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress.

The White House doesn't care for the estimates by Stiglitz, a former chief economist of the World Bank who's now a professor at Columbia University.

"People like Joe Stiglitz lack the courage to consider the cost of doing nothing and the cost of failure. One can't even begin to put a price tag on the cost to this nation of the attacks of 9/11," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.

"It is also an investment in the future safety and security of Americans and our vital national interests. ... What price does Joe Stiglitz put on attacks on the homeland that have already been prevented? Or doesn't his slide rule work that way?"

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine Corps colonel and Vietnam veteran, welcomed the effort by Stiglitz and Bilmes to quantify the ways in which the wars will cost taxpayers.

"It's astounding that here we are about to mark the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and this administration still refuses to acknowledge the long-term costs of the war in Iraq," he said.